Tiny Terror from South Korea
A South Korean news agency has reported that the nearly complete fossilised skeleton of a new species of meat-eating dinosaur has been discovered in Hadong county, some 300 miles south of the country’s capital Seoul. A think tank, the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage has stated that not only is this the most complete dinosaur skeleton to be found in South Korea it is also the smallest. The specimen represents an individual animal that would probably have been around 30 centimetres in length, with a good portion of that being made up of the tail. The miniature meat-eater’s skull measures 5.7 centimetres long and is 2.6 centimetres wide. Palaeontologists have yet to determine whether the fossil is of a young dinosaur or an adult animal.
A Picture of the Fossil Material Released by the News Agency
Picture credit: Yonhap News Agency
The picture above shows the partially exposed skeleton, elements from the skull as well as the ribs and part of the back bone can be made out. From the photograph, it is difficult to determine what sort of creature this could be, it does not look particularly theropod like with this dorsal view (view from the top looking down) of the specimen.
A number of dinosaur and other prehistoric animal fossils have been found in the Early Cretaceous rocks that are exposed in Hadong county (South Gyeongsang province). This fossil has been tentatively dated to around 120 million years ago (Aptian faunal stage of the Early Cretaceous). Sauropod tracks are also known from this part of the world, as well as fragmentary evidence supporting the presence of large, carnivorous dinosaurs including some remarkable bones that might have preserved evidence of dinosaur feeding behaviour.
To read about the discovery of dinosaur bones that might provide evidence of feeding: Strange Marks in the Bones – Dinosaurs Feeding?
Back in 2008, the South Korean Government failed in their attempt to get part of the coastline of the country, with its rich and varied Mesozoic fossils, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Intriguingly, notes accompanying the press release stated that the tiny fossil had vertebrae connected to the ribs, whether this statement means that the ribs were actually fused to the backbone is unclear. It has also been suggested that another specimen is located in the same matrix. We at Everything Dinosaur, will look out for further press releases, hopefully more information about this discovery will come to light.
Could the Fossils Represent a New Species of Tiny Theropod Dinosaur?
Picture credit: Dinosaurs of the British Isles (Siri Scientific Press)